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Why no blockbusters at NBA trade deadline? Here are three reasons.

Feb 21, 2013, 10:01 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

The narrative of the NBA Trade Deadline 2013 is going to be that it was a dud.

Fans seemed to think the Lakers were going to trade Dwight Howard. Or the Celtics were going to blow it up and trade Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The fans expected blockbusters and some of the national media fanned that flame.

Instead, fans got J.J. Redick going to Milwaukee. And Dexter Pittman being traded. Can’t forget Pittman.

What happened? Here are three reasons

1) A lot of the trades being discussed never had any chance of happening. The Lakers were never going to trade Dwight Howard. Some people seemed to think the Lakers should trade Howard — from fans at the bar to breakdowns on SportsCenter. But if you asked the Lakers, or anyone around the Lakers, or any other team’s personnel that called the Lakers, the answer was always it was never going to happen. The Lakers did not waiver. Expectations always were way ahead of reality here.

It was the same with trading Kevin Garnett — he couldn’t have been more clear about not waiving his no trade clause. But nobody seemed to listen. And so it went on and on. Fans wanted to see the Bulls add talent when they would never take on more salary. We expected Josh Smith to get moved but Hawks GM Danny Ferry said all along he would hold on to Smith if no offer he really liked came along. And one didn’t.

We as basketball fans talked up expectations that got out of line with the reality of those trades happening.

2) The big trades we did get ended up happening earlier, not at the deadline. We like to think the NBA trade deadline is about big moves, one team trying to save money and another team trying to rebuild (or build up for a title run).

We had a big trade like that — James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets before the start of the season so the Thunder could keep their finances in line. Rudy Gay was moved out of Memphis weeks ago to Toronto. Those are classic deadline deals, they just didn’t happen at the deadline this year.

If you start going father back you notice this is becoming a trend — Pau Gasol was moved to the Lakers in 2008 three weeks before the trade deadline. Teams aren’t really doing the big deals at the deadline nearly as often, they happen a little bit earlier. There are still big trades, but GMs are now doing them on their own terns and on their own timeframe, without the pressure that a hard deadline can bring.

3) The new luxury tax levels/repeater tax really does scare some teams off. This was the most commonly discussed reason and that’s because there is a lot of truth to it. In the past the Bobcats might have found someone to take on Ben Gordon — yes he’s overpaid but he can score and some team could live with that. But no teams want the tax consequences of that. Same with the much-shopped Brooklyn Nets combo of Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick (the Nets offered that to every team save the Globetrotters).

This trend is not going away. The repeater tax will add $1 per every dollar you are over the tax line when you are over said line four out of five years. So there are going to be a lot of trade deadlines where you see teams do what the Warriors did — make a couple small moves to get under the tax line. The goal of the new tax rules was to stop teams from stockpiling talent, and that may happen. But it has worked on scaring teams for trading expensive contracts.

The real breakthrough will come if they stop giving Humphries $12 million a year in the first place.

  1. BOOMmediaGroup - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Reblogged this on boom Media Group.

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 22, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      Excellent. I was waiting for your reblog.

  2. dgbk - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Meadowlark wouldnt waive his no-trade clause to play for the nets every knows that

    • albertmn - Feb 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Love your comment. But, you may be showing your age to have gone with Meadowlark. Granted, I’m showing mine by knowing the reference. I couldn’t name a current player on that team.

  3. wildbillsrodeo - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    I honestly believe that if the C’d had worked out a worthy deal to send Pierce to the Nets, that Garnett would have waived the no-trade clause and we’d be getting Bledsoe and Jordan in return. But one does not happen without the other.

  4. deavn - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    The real reason is because if you doo doo on yourself….

  5. crtzinc - Feb 22, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    I’m just glad the deadline is over and all these what ifs and repeated rumors are put to rest.

  6. fm31970 - Feb 22, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    “The real breakthrough will come if they stop giving Humphries $12 million a year in the first place.”

    ..and other players too much money, then want to trade them soon after. See Ben Gordon and Drew Gooden, too.

    • shanelsweet - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:26 AM

      Who do you think will get the “savings” from paying the players less? Hint: it won’t be you or any other fan. I’ll never understand why so many folks insist on supporting the rich when they aren’t rich themselves. It’s like a Republican supporting President Obama. Usually, these players are the only “rich” person in their entire extended family and circle of friends. They entertain me. I’d rather they get my money than some rich owner and his extended rich family and circle of rich friends. They make me angry with their lifestyle when so many other folks in the world suffer.

      • albertmn - Feb 22, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        sweet – You are missing the point. The players will still get the same percentage. The teams just should be more careful about giving $10 million per year to guys that are not that skilled and could be replaced for less cost. Plus, you brought up politics on a sports site. Leave the politics at home.

        To answer you initial question, the true stars will get the money. The top players will get max contracts, role players will get closer to the veteran minimum, and the second tier guys will be fighting for spots or accepting minimum deals.

  7. davidly - Feb 22, 2013 at 2:57 AM

    I was wondering: I’ve seen the lux-tax numbers broken down (though not committed them to memory). Not knowing the prospective offending owners’ personal financials– is it unlikely that some of them will lay it all out there anyway, like, say, Reinsdorf, to take one example?

    In other words, other than making the overvaluing of a player that much more risky, is the new tax and penalty seriously cost-prohibitive to the überwealthy owner, or can they still stack their team with expensive talent in an effort to beat the competition, just for a lot more money?

    • albertmn - Feb 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I would bet you may see a team go over the threshold for one or two seasons, but then get back under. And, then they will likely only go over if they think they have a legit title shot. Build your team, get to the brink of a title, then overpay for a season or two to take your shot before dumping guys to get back under the cap. I was of the understanding that the more years in a row you are over, the amount of extra you pay goes up more each year. So, if you were over five years in a row, the cost would be prohibitive, even to the uber-wealthy.

      • davidly - Feb 22, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        Enlightening perspective. Thanks for laying it out.

  8. yousuxxors - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    i think ths celtics should of blew it up. get jordan bledsoe brooks and humpies and a pick for pierce and KG. seems like a good starting point for rebuild but never saw it actually happening. im sure the celtics will be fine though.

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